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Films from Margaret Tait and Friends
11th November at 7pm - Sallis Benney Theatre

A poet, a defiantly independent filmmaker, an artist of unique and extraordinary vision – the great Margaret Tait would have been 100 on November 11th 2018. We’re celebrating her centenary with a special programme featuring new restorations of Tait’s film poems, alongside rare 16mm screenings from artists working in the tradition of intimate, first person cinema.

Tait once said of her films, that they are born "of sheer wonder and astonishment at how much can be seen in any place that you choose… if you really look."

Margaret Tait’s work reminds us of what cinema is and can be. Cinema can be personal. Films can be revisited, just like returning to a novel or re-reading a poem. Films can be made over several years. Films can be made in the country. Cinema can take place in venues such as village halls, a room in a house, in a garden, in galleries, and in small groups with talk or discussion, and in cinemas of all shape, size and type...’
Filmmaker/poet Peter Todd

'Scottish film-poet Margaret Tait produced an exquisite body of work combining poetry, portraiture, music, ethnography, and animation. She studied filmmaking in Rome during the height of Italian neorealism before returning to Scotland in the early 1950s, where she found inspiration in the contrasting daily rhythms of Edinburgh and the Orkney Islands. In an early jewel of a film, A PORTRAIT OF GA (1952), Tait cut together birdsong and snippets of Orkney lore with shots of her mother and the rugged island landscape to produce a startlingly poignant impression of family and place. She explored similar themes in later films like WHERE I AM IS HERE (1964), COLOUR POEMS (1974), and AERIAL (1974) – each screening tonight - reflecting on the passage of time while attending to the details of everyday life.’ (Amy Beste)

Margaret Tait 100

Margaret Tait at Lux

Screening alongside Margaret Tait's films we're excited to present:

Marie Menken, 1940 – 62, USA, 16mm, 12 mins

Menken is one of the unsung pioneers of American experimental cinema, an abstract painter turned filmmaker who inspired artists such as Stan Brakhage, Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas, and Kenneth Anger. Menken created an extraordinary body of exuberant and stunningly beautiful films shaped, above all, by her intuitive understanding of handheld cinematography.
Notebook is a film diary of her work going back as far back as the late 1940s - a gathering of lyrically dancing film images and hand-cut animation into loose chapters. Life in New York as a series of gently abstract visual poems, the most mundane activities bought into the realm of the miraculous. Menken herself said of Notebook: ‘They are too tiny or too explicit for a remark, but one or two are my dearest children’.

Marie Menken at Harvard

Ute Aurand, 2017, Germany, 16mm, 5 mins

Ute Aurand has been a central figure of Berlin’s experimental film scene since the 1980s and is one the most significant filmmakers active in the diary and portrait tradition today.
‘Many of Ute Aurand’s films take as their titles the names of people close to the filmmaker, and that’s not incidental. Hers is a cinema of intimacy, populated by friends and family, some filmed over many years, in which daily experience forms the basis for a practice rich in lyrical beauty. Unlike many contemporary artists using the moving image, Aurand works within the artisanal tradition, shooting and editing her 16mm films alone. She favours responsive handheld camerawork and a distinctive editing style that is at once energetic, rhythmic and tender. Though this process may be solitary, it is never self-involved; rather, Aurand’s films are marked by a disarming openness. I consider it amongst the most compelling work in experimental cinema today.’ Erika Balsom

Lisa is Aurand's latest film portrait, filmed over the years and in different locations in Germany and Japan. 'Filming portraits allows me to emphasize private gestures and moments beyond narration and documentation.' Ute Aurand

Ute's homepage

Annabel Nicolson, 1971, UK, 16mm, 11 mins

One of the few women working in, and sometimes in opposition to, the male dominated environment of the early London Film Makers Co-op. Like Menken, Nicolson came to film from painting, and made her first cameraless, handpainted film 'Abstract no. 1' in 1969. For Slides, made the following year - ‘a continuing sequence of tactile films were made in the printer from my earlier material. 35 mm slides, light leaked film, sewn film, cut up to 8mm and 16mm fragments were dragged through the contact printer, directly and intuitively controlled. The films create their own fluctuating colour and form dimensions - the appearance of sprocket holes, frame lines etc., is less to do with the structural concept and more of a creative, plastic response to whatever is around.’ Annabel Nicolson

David Toop on Annabel Nicolson
Annabel Nicolson at Lux

Aberhart's House
Joanna Margaret Paul, 1976, New Zealand, Super 8mm to digital

Paul (1955-2003) was a New Zealand artist who worked prolifically across the mediums of film, poetry and painting. Working in relative artistic isolation, her films, often shot and edited in camera, chronicled motherhood and domestic life, the worn traces of urban settlement and the persistent presence of the natural world. 'All my films poems paintings play more or less between inner and outer events.' Joanna Margaret Paul.
Thankyou to Mark Williams at Circuit Artist Film and Video, New Zealand. We hope to bring you a full programme of Joanna Margaret Paul's work in 2019.

Joanna Margaret Paul at Circuit


Where I Am is Here is part of this year's CineCity film festival - an amazing selection of world cinema, previews and live events running from the 9th - 25th November 2018






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